Career Advice: The Moment That Mattered for Us

Quote

IMA’s top thought leaders are sharing the best career advice they’ve ever received, which helped shape them into the professionals they are today.

 

JeffACE20160619-_MTMspotJeff Thomson, CMA, CAE, is IMA’s president and CEO. Undoubtedly, he has received much career advice throughout the years, but what stuck with him the most pertained to becoming a business partner:

“To add value in your position, learn the business. This gives you the context to learn, grow, and influence. Simple as that! ‘The business’ includes your industry, how value flows, your customers, how decisions are made in your company, and what are the levers to being an influential business partner.”

 

Dennis Whitney, CMA, is IMA’s senior vice president of certifications, exams, and content integration. The advice he received early in his career helped him balance his workload:

“When I was in my late 20s, a supervisor/mentor told me to work hard, but have fun, and don’t worry about the things you can’t control. This advice helped me be both more productive and happier as I work toward focusing only on what matters most.”

 

Debbie Warner, CPLP, is IMA’s vice president of education and career services and was inspired by career advice about continuing education:

“Make learning a lifelong adventure. Not only is it fun to continually expand your horizon, but the knowledge you gain is something you will ‘own’ throughout your life and helps to determine your uniqueness.”

 

Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE, is IMA’s director of technical accounting activities. The best career advice she received was in the area of advocacy:

“Take control of your career, and become your strongest advocate. Carve out and identify your area of expertise, and develop a career path accordingly. That advice is why I think I was considered for my original position at IMA 10 years ago, as director of professional advocacy. As I continue to be an advocate for my career, I am also a strong advocate for IMA and love opportunities that allow me to talk about IMA’s membership benefits, including the CMA® [Certified Management Accountant] designation.”

 

Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, is IMA’s vice president of research and professor-in-residence. He was inspired at a young age to strive to reach his goals:

“One of my high school teachers wrote in my yearbook something to the effect that in order to succeed, you need both ‘smarts’ and perseverance; one of these alone was not sufficient.”

 

Doreen Remmen, CMA, CAE, is IMA’s senior vice president of operations and CFO.

“The best career advice I received was the advice I gave myself: ‘Get certified!’”

 

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Did it help you grow personally and professionally? How else did it change you? Leave your comments below!

 

Related Articles

Supporting Your Career PathwayStrategic Finance

How To Position Your Personal Brand For Next-Stage Career GrowthForbes

 

Take the Guesswork Out of Creating a Development Plan

In my role at IMA©, I oversee the creation of management accounting educational products that help our members expand their professional knowledge and skills. These products include webinars, online self-development courses, and live events such as IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo and Leadership Academy workshops.

Before selecting educational products, it’s important to first take stock of your professional development needs for your current situation as well as your career aspirations, and then put together a plan. If you’re unsure of where to start, here are some ideas.

Take Stock in Your Professional Knowledge and Skills

Young businesswoman thinking and cloud of mind with quiestionsThe first step in creating a professional development plan is to assess your management accounting skills and knowledge. There are various ways to do this. You can ask your colleagues or manager for their perspective, consider feedback received during your performance reviews, talk with a mentor or coach, or do a self-assessment. After obtaining feedback and results, you can then determine which areas for growth you want to focus on when building your development plan.

Plan Your Development

Once you’ve benchmarked your skills and prioritized areas for improvement, you can start building a development plan that is customized to your particular needs. This involves considering the extent of what you need to learn, how much time you have to devote to expanding your skills, and what types of education you find most attractive. Remember to consider various options for development, including self-study online courses and webinars, relevant books and publications by thought leaders, blended learning solutions involving classes and online courseware, live events such as conferences or specific training sessions, networking with others, and on-the-job activities.

After researching the various learning opportunities, select those which you feel best meet your needs and record them on your development plan. Also, determine the date you want to start each of your selections as well as a completion date.

Commit to Your Plan

A critical next step is to “work” your development plan by starting and completing the activities you’ve identified to close your skill gaps. As you progress with your activities, it will also be important to update your development plan with actual results. This will keep you motivated to continue on your professional development path. Then, at certain intervals (such as quarterly, semi-annually, or yearly), you should take stock regarding the broader progress made against areas for improvement to ensure you are successfully closing your skills gap. If diligent about your efforts, you will be proud to see your progress.

Continue Your Professional Development Progress

careerdriverIMA’s CareerDriver ™ career planning tool is designed to help members assess their management accounting competencies and create personalized development plans. Whether you are looking to transition into a new role, strengthen your skills, or discover new professional possibilities, Career Driver has the right personalized approach for you.

Gaining new knowledge and skills is a lifelong adventure as well as critical to professional success in your current and future positions. The personal assessment and development plan process is a continuous discipline in which you will reap many benefits. Enjoy this important professional journey!

Written by Debbie Warner, CPLP

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Confronting the Skills Gap – IMA
What’s In Your Leadership ToolboxStrategic Finance

5 Tips for Your Next Networking Event

As the leader of IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo, I oversee the robust 3.5-day program that includes more than 50 educational sessions, a variety of networking opportunities, “meet and greets” with keynote speakers, and other special attendee events. An important value of our conference, or any in-person business event, is the opportunity to network with like-minded professionals in our field.

If you’re uncomfortable by the idea of networking and approaching people you don’t know, here are some tips you can use at your next conference or in-person business event.

1.    If offered, attend the orientation session for first-time attendees. This will acquaint you with the event’s agenda as well as other attendees in the same position as you. When the time is right, introduce yourself to others.  Some “ice breaking” tips include sharing your name, where you’re from, where you work, and your role. Then ask others those questions, listening carefully for commonalities and differences in your backgrounds. Oftentimes, further conversation occurs naturally after this point and first-timers frequently plan to connect again during or after the event.

2.    Before or after a presentation, start a conversation with someone sitting nearby about the presentation topic. Start out by introducing yourself and asking about his/her interest in the session. If you have specific questions or insights about the session, offer that as further information, or ask how the session relates to his/her job responsibilities or career aspirations.  meeting presenter

3.    After a session that sparks your interest, introduce yourself to the presenter and ask specific questions regarding the concepts covered or how you can obtain more information. Offer your business card so that you can continue sharing material on the topic.

4.    During networking events such as “meet and greets,” group meals, or cocktail parties, seek out individuals who are standing alone, who you haven’t met, or who you’ve met in a prior session. Besides introducing yourself, inquire what sessions he/she has participated in, what his/her impressions were, and what he/she has learned. Share your thoughts also.

5.    Small group activities like conversational roundtables or exhibitor showcases allow for additional one-on-one time with other attendees as well as opportunities to meet with exhibitors to learn about their services. In addition to the above examples, other conversation starters include inquiring about new industry or regulatory events, discussing work challenges you may be experiencing, or learning more about the organization hosting the event to better understand other services of interest to you.

Make It Count

When you feel the conversation has ended, offer to connect on LinkedIn or exchange Businessmen exchanging business cardsbusiness cards. And don’t forget to follow up! Starting and sustaining a conversation with business professionals in your industry is an important way to grow, build your self-confidence, and expand your career horizons. So go ahead and mingle on!

To jumpstart building your networking skills, join us at IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo held in Las Vegas on June 18-22, 2016. Register now for your chance to network with the profession’s top thought leaders and professional colleagues.

Written by Debbie Warner, CPLP

Related Articles
7 Conversation Starters Better Than ‘What Do You Do?’ — And 7 That Are Even WorseForbes
Building Effective LeadersStrategic Finance

Unleash Your Learning Potential

One of the key skills that will help you succeed in your career already lies within you: understanding the way you learn. Focusing on what topics are relevant to your needs, and knowing when and how you digest information, can help you unleash your learning potential as you advance along your career path.

For me, it’s a rewarding process to help others learn and grow, and I’ve been lucky enough throughout my career to have been involved in training and development in one way or another. Now, as IMAs vice president of education and career services, my team and I are tasked with providing a variety of continuing education learning opportunities for financial professionals in business. These programs and services need to be delivered in a variety of formats in order to help professionals maximize learning. But, it’s also important for individuals to understand their learning preferences.

Here are a few things to ask yourself when deciding if an educational opportunity is right for you:

Topic Relevance

Will the topic help you grow your knowledge, skills, and abilities to be more effective on the job and progress in your career? Is it mandatory to continue holding a certification?

As a busy professional, it’s important to continue your professional education, but it’s also important to choose a topic that is relevant to your personal and professional goals.

Format Preference
Learning_Potential_1How does the training opportunity fit in with the rest of your commitments? Do you have the time needed to attend live workshops, conferences, or events? Is your preference to leverage self-study online courses accessible at convenient times from the comfort of your home or business? Or, does a webinar given at a prescribed time in which a speaker presents on a topic in real time interest you instead?

Determining the right environment and format can help prepare you for an ideal learning experience.

Learning Style

Lastly, but also very importantly, what type of learner are you? There are generally three types of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

  • Visual learners absorb information better when viewing pictures, diagrams, or other visual representations of concepts. Such learners may want to participate in courses that are more visuals based and less text based.
  • Auditory learners learn best by listening to Relaxe woman at homedirections and information and verbally sharing information with others. Courses including lectures and engagement through team exercises may benefit these learners the most.
  • In contrast to visual and auditory learners, kinesthetic learners prefer to be actively involved and enjoy hands-on learning. Educational courses that include practice tests, knowledge checks, and case studies are important to such learners.

It’s helpful to understand your preferred learning style so that educational opportunities can enrich your learning experience.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Growing your professional knowledge, skills, and abilities is critical to progressing in your current position and, more importantly, in your future career. Understanding your professional developmental needs, course preferences, and learning style will help with your growth.

With more than 300 online self-study courses available 24/7, webinars on management accounting and leadership topics three to five times per month, and in-person conferences and events typically including lectures and networking opportunities, IMA is dedicated to offering a variety of learning approaches. Check out IMA’s Learning Center for more information. You can also view our new learning assessment tool, CareerDriver, to match your skills to 40 management accounting roles and build a development plan as a guide to the next step in your career.

Written by Debbie Warner, CPLP

Related Articles
The Creative Brain – Ned Herrmann